Friday, June 12, 2009

More Capitalism In Our Schools

In an article on the recent decision in New York to pay students for making good grades, Glenn Beck argues this is a bad idea. To be honest, I once thought this was a bad idea, but I have changed my mind about it, at least when it comes to payment for good grades (I still agree with myself on paying for tutoring). Beck's main argument is that we shouldn't be paying students because free education is a gift. If only things were that simple. I happen to think education is a gift -- but only when it is free to take it or leave it. We thus shouldn't be paying college students to make good grades, for example. But with pre-college public education, people are forced by law to be there. For people like me, this isn't an issue, because I loved learning. However, I know plenty of people who think of the gift of education as a gift of a rattlesnake. Worse, there is someone there with a shotgun telling you that if you don't take the rattlesnake, they will shoot you in the head. An extreme analogy, perhaps, but I think it makes the point. For such students, some sort of incentive is absolutely necessary. Money works. More, contra Beck's belief, it will in fact teach students to appreciate capitalism more, as they will learn about earning money -- something too many young people know nothing about. Thus, it really is analogous to giving your children an allowance -- something I will certainly be doing with my child. All in all, Stu is right, and Beck is wrong on this.

In the end, society is better off with an educated populace. If this will do it, let's do it. If it applies to everyone, there's not a problem. You would be surprised at how rapidly sutdent IQ's will rise when they have incentives to learn. Also, it would be a nice way to get back a little tax money.
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